This interview features Maria Hauger, senior, Shakopee High School, Shakopee, Minnesota. In 2011, Maria won her third Minnesota State cross country championship, 5th in Footlocker Midwest Regionals, 21st in Footlocker Nationals, 1st at NXN Heartland Regionals, and 24th at NXN Nationals. Her track bests are 1600m – 4:55.88, 3000m – 9:39.60, 2 mile – 10:28.40, and 5000m – 16:53.07 (4th in New Balance Nationals).
1. When & how did you get started in cross country, or generally in your running career?
I grew up playing a lot of sports like soccer and hockey. At hockey practice we would run the stairs for conditioning and I was always way in front of my teammates, so in 7th grade I went out for the track team in the spring. I made varsity right away and was successful so the next year I quit soccer and went out for cross country. My first year I took 9th at the state meet, then I’ve won it ever since.
2. Person/people most influential to your success in cross country, or generally in your running career?
My dad has been the most influential in my success in cross country because he has been my strength training coach since I was 12. He always comes and times my interval sessions and never misses a race.
3. Your cross country coach(es)?
Mark Neu. He was the right coach for our team because he is always so positive and encouraging. He has been so successful at keeping our team practices fun, but very competitive. He allowed me to excel and push myself in practices.
4. Keys to your successful training program?
Strength training is one of the main parts of my training. I combine the strength element with long runs once a week plus intervals, tempo work, and speed to make a successful combination. I try to get a lot of sleep and have proper nutrition to run well.
5. Why you enjoy cross country?
Cross country is unlike any other sport. A person has to be mentally and physically tough to be good at this sport. It is not an easy sport. I like the change in terrain and using my strength to push myself up the hills. I love the team part of cross country and how every spot or runner you pass counts.
6. Your favorite cross country meet(s)?
My favorite cross country meet is the Minnesota State Meet at St. Olaf College because I love the course and the atmosphere.
7. Cross country athlete(s) you most enjoy competing against?
Erin Finn because she always goes out hard just like I like to race. When you race her you know the race will have a good and fair pace. She is really nice.
8. Your greatest cross country experience in your career so far?
Qualifying and racing at Footlocker Nationals in San Diego, California. I was racing against the best high school athletes while it was 70 degrees in December.
9. Goals for the 2012 cross country season?
Win the Minnesota State Meet for my fourth consecutive time and break the state meet record. Qualify for Nike Nationals for the fourth consecutive time and qualify for Footlocker nationals for the second time. Be in the top ten for each. Lead my Shakopee team to the Minnesota State Championship.
10. Long-term goals in cross country, or generally in your running career?
Receive a full ride scholarship to run for a division 1 school. Qualify for the NCAA National Cross Country Meet, Indoor and Outdoor track. Keep improving and setting personal bests and continue to run post-collegiately.
For more see Maria Hauger's Athlete Profile.